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Bill Passes To Make App Stores More Competitive

A bipartisan bill aimed at boosting competition by restricting how the tech giants run and police their app stores has been passed into legislation in the US.

The Open App Markets Act will limit the commissions the likes of Apple and Alphabet can charge for in-app purchases, payment processing and app-store purchases.

Apple and Google have both argued these restrictions and commissions are necessary to maintain a level of security, and high standards. They say their app stores encourage competition rather than limit it.

Apple said its app store “is the cornerstone of our work to connect developers and customers in a way that is safe and trustworthy. The result has been an unprecedented engine of economic growth and innovation.”

The bill’s sponsors argue that Apple and Google have appointed themselves gatekeepers and limit competition as a result.

“For years, Apple and Google have squashed competitors and kept consumers in the dark—pocketing hefty windfalls while acting as supposedly benevolent gatekeepers of this multibillion-dollar market,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.

“This bipartisan bill will help break these tech giants’ ironclad grip, open the app economy to new competitors and give mobile users more control over their own devices.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn added that Apple and Google “are forcing their own app stores on users at the expense of innovative startups; their anticompetitive conduct is a direct affront to a free and fair marketplace.”

The bill will ban companies from forcing developers to use their app store and payment systems, or penalising them for telling consumers about competitive or lower pricing deals.

Apps will now be able to be loaded onto Android and iOS devices without going through the official app stores.

The bill will, however, allow exceptions for the continued protection against fraud, privacy breaches, and other security concerns.


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